Congress has just passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which includes economic support for creative professionals.
Below is a flowchart from the Arts, Entertainment, and Media Industry Coordinating Committee (AEMI) to provide initial guidance on how to access the expanded unemployment insurance benefits.
In addition, links to the National Employment Law Project factsheet on the unemployment provisions in the “CARES” Act and a press release from the DPE are copied below for you.
As you will read, the CARES Act includes a program called “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)”, which is available to workers who wouldn’t otherwise be covered by unemployment insurance. With regard to dramatists whose shows were closed or cancelled, the most relevant criteria relate to a “worker” who:
- cannot reach his or her place of work because of a quarantine or advice of a health care provider to self-quarantine
- has had to quit his or her work as a result of Coronavirus, or
- has a work location that is closed as a direct result of a COVID-19 public health emergency
Please be aware, however, that all of these criteria beg some essential questions:
- Is a dramatist who has licensed their intellectual property to a theater actually a “worker” under this bill?
- Does a closed theater constitute a “work location” or “a place of work” for someone who is not a worker, or whose attendance at the theater was not actually required?
- Do a dramatist’s unpaid royalties for the performances that were not presented actually establish a basis to make a claim?
If you are successful in claiming any form of compensation for your lost royalties, or otherwise get answers to any of these questions, please let us know as soon as possible. In the meantime, while we continue to investigate the applicability of this bill on closed and cancelled productions, The CARES Act may help you with regard to the other freelance and “gig” work that supports your career as a playwright.
Executive Director, Business Affairs